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The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)

 |  Drama, Sport  |  8 October 1962 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 5,281 users  
Reviews: 51 user | 35 critic

A rebellious youth, sentenced to a boy's reformatory for robbing a bakery, rises through the ranks of the institution through his prowess as a long distance runner. During his solitary runs... See full summary »



(screenplay), (short story)
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Title: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)

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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview:
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Mrs. Smith
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A rebellious youth, sentenced to a boy's reformatory for robbing a bakery, rises through the ranks of the institution through his prowess as a long distance runner. During his solitary runs, reveries of his life and times before his incarceration lead him to re-evaluate his privileged status as the Governor's prize runner. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Sport


See all certifications »




Release Date:

8 October 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Rebel with a Cause  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Real borstal inmates were used as extras, primarily in the riot scene. Walter Lassally: "The mix was so good that you couldn't--unless you knew that this is an actor and this is an extra and this is a Borstal boy--you couldn't tell. The only time you could tell was at lunchtime, because they were absolutely ravenous. It looked like in the Borstal they were never properly fed because they were always looking. If you'd finished your dinner and you'd left something on your plate, they'd say, can I have that? ... They participated with great glee in the riot." See more »


When the boys are doing gardening work one character calls another "you mug" (meaning gullible idiot). This is incorrectly recorded in the subtitles as "you muppet" but the word "muppet" - meaning an idiot - was not in use when the film was made. See more »


[first lines]
Colin Smith: Running was always a big thing in our family, specially running away from the police. It's hard to understand. All I know is that you've got to run, running without knowing why, through fields and woods. And the winning post's no end, even though the barmy crowds might be cheering themselves daft. That's what the loneliness of a long distance runner feels like.
See more »


Featured in Free Cinema (1986) See more »


Music by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (uncredited)
Lyrics by William Blake (uncredited)
Sung by the lads in the audience at the close of the concert scene
Several instrumental variations of the melody are heard throughout the soundtrack
See more »

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User Reviews

British cinema at it's best
14 June 2001 | by (Huddersfield, England) – See all my reviews

Ahh Mother,why oh why oh why oh why, don't they make them like they used to? Forget your Guy Richie crime capers,'Loneliness of the long distance runner' is British cinema at its best. I can't explain why I love this film (erm so why I am I here?), whenever I try to explain the plot to friends they look perplexed as to why the film should be so good. Tom Courtenay is in his element in his portrayal as the 'loveable rogue'. Has 'Jerusalem' ever been more poignantly sung as it has here? Im not urging you to go out and purchase the film, but if you have a spare 90 odd minutes and it comes on television then watch it. Ta.

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